Castro Comes To Power In Cuba

Meanwhile, a political drama was unfolding on the island of Cuba, 150 kilometers off the United States' southeastern shoreline. Early in 1959, after fighting for several years, Fidel Castro Fidel Castro overthrew the government of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Mindful of Batista's record of repression, the U.S. government and the American public in general welcomed Castro's rise to power, although the United States had given the Batista government military aid.

American sympathy evaporated, however, when Castro failed to hold free elections, placed the press under strict censorship, and sentenced to death a number of his political enemies. Once again Cuba's jails were filled with political critics, including many of Castro's former comrades, anti-communist labor leaders, and other veteran opponents of the Batista regime. Foreign-owned property was expropriated, in many cases without compensation.

Castro began increasingly to denounce the United States and to seek support from the Communist-bloc nations. The Eisenhower Administration at first adopted a policy of forbearance but during the summer of 1960 American policy stiffened. The United States placed a temporary embargo on the purchase of Cuban sugar and urged the 21-nation OAS to condemn Cuba's actions. The OAS, while it did not directly indict the Castro regime on this occasion, did condemn Soviet interference in the western hemisphere because of its support of Castro.

Another international gathering, held later in 1960, seemed to sum up both the hopeful and the disturbing aspects of the world scene. Meeting in New York, the U.N. General Assembly admitted 17 new nations, all but one from the African continent -a reflection of the rapid postwar movement of formerly colonial peoples to full independence and nationhood. Speaking to the U.N. delegates, President Eisenhower asked other nations to join the United States in providing increased aid to developing areas generally and to the new African nations in particular. He also pledged that the United States would continue to seek world disarmament based on effective inspection and control.

Prior to the General Assembly session, world concern over the mounting arms race had been heightened by man's conquest of space, a development that in more tranquil times would have been a source only of admiration and pride. The launching of the first Soviet space satellite in October 1957 and the first American satellite in January 1958 demonstrated that both countries now had rockets powerful enough to hurl atomic and hydrogen bombs into the heart of any enemy country thousands of kilometers away.

By the late 1950s technology made possible a push-button war that could destroy tens of millions of lives within minutes. The need for a foolproof arms inspection system to prevent the outbreak of such a war, accidentally or otherwise, seemed obvious to most of the world. Premier Khrushchev, however, told the U.N. General Assembly that the Soviet Union could not accept inspection and control in the initial stages of a disarmament agreement. Disarmament without inspection, the democratic nations believed, was unacceptable on the grounds that a "closed" society such as the Soviet Union could violate its disarmament pledges with little chance of detection, whereas violations within more "open" societies would have a high chance of being discovered and publicized.